Amazon Warehouse Workers in Michigan Plan Strike for Coronavirus Protections

Amazon warehouse workers in Michigan plan to strike to call for greater protections against the coronavirus.
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Amazon.com  (AMZN) - Get Report warehouse workers at a warehouse in Romulus, Michigan, were planning a strike on Wednesday to call for greater protections against the coronavirus, CNBC reported.

The workers at the facility, known as DTW1, are demanding that Amazon close it for two weeks in order to clean the location, after a worker tested positive last week, CNBC said, citing a document it had obtained.

The job action was supposed to begin Wednesday at noon ET.

Workers at DTW1 received a text message from Amazon Wednesday morning informing them that a third person has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“Today, we learned of a third confirmed case of COVID-19 at DTW1,” the text message read, according to CNBC. “The affected individual was last seen on site on March 28, and consistent with our daily processes, the site has been undergoing multiple enhanced cleanings during this time.”

Amazon told workers in the text message that it was notifying any co-workers who may have been in contact with the individual who tested positive. The company also said that it wouldn’t penalize any workers who felt uncomfortable coming into work.

Workers at DTW1 said Amazon wasn't being transparent about the number of positive cases at the facility.

Mario Crippen, a warehouse worker and a lead organizer of the walkout, is calling for Amazon to give workers full pay while the warehouse is shut down, provide “adequate” paid time off to “anyone who needs to stay home,” and provide a plan for when additional positive cases are discovered at fulfillment centers, the CNBC story said. 

Amazon said in statement that out of 4,000 people less than 15 people participated in the demonstration.

"Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable," the statement said. "We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances."

Dania Rajendra, director of the Athena coalition, said Amazon workers at the facility said there were more than 15 people participating in the demonstration.

"We think the time and effort that Amazon is putting into spinning the numbers about who is participating the numbers would be better spent in making a plan to protect public health and worker health," she said. "I am surprised that we are hearing the same number that we heard on Monday at Staten Island where they also said it was 15 people. What workers in Michigan and New York, and across the country are saying is that they are risking their health, the health of their families, and people they know to go to work."

Amazon fired a worker who led a strike at the online retailing giant’s warehouse in Staten Island, New York, over safety conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Smalls led a protest of workers who questioned Amazon’s decision to keep the warehouse operating despite news of a confirmed case of the coronavirus there last week. The company said it fired Smalls because he violated safety regulations. New York Attorney General Letitia James called for an investigation into Smalls' firing. 

Also, dozens of Amazon employees walked out of their overnight shift at a Chicago delivery station Monday night to protest the company's refusal to shut down their building for disinfection after a worker there tested positive for the coronavirus.

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